Preservation commission reactivated in Clay Co.

Preservation commission reactivated in Clay Co. The Clay County Historic Preservation Commission, established in 1975 for the purpose of preserving, promoting and developing the historical resources of the county, was reactivated in August of this year.

Lynda Schwan, southeast South Dakota coordinator for the State Historic Preservation Center in Pierre, organized the Aug. 31 meeting to emphasize the importance of the commission again taking an active role in historic preservation activities in Clay County.

Schwan explained that the primary functions of the commission � to survey local historic resources, develop and conduct educational programs, nominate eligible properties to the National Register of Historic Places, and develop local historic preservation ordinances � needed to take place or the county would risk losing its Certified Local Government status and would not be eligible for federal historic preservation grants.

Schwan described some on-going historic preservation activities and programs in other communities in the state. On Sept. 7, the Clay County Commission approved a list of people to serve on the Clay County Historic Preservation Commission (CCHPC).

On Sept. 20, the CCHPC met at the Austin-Whittemore Museum in Vermillion and elected officers. Four commission members were selected to serve in the following capacities: Chairperson Kevin Jacobson, Vice-chairperson Betty Smith, Secretary Cleo Kosters and Treasurer Larry Smith. The commission's by-laws were distributed and discussed, with no action taken to update them at this time.

A proposed ordinance would eventually require development of new by-laws. Smith offered research historic preservation ordinances in the state and develop a draft ordinance that would be presented to the commission at its October meeting. Jacobson presented information he had received at a State Historic Preservation Center-sponsored workshop held in Sioux Falls on Sept. 13. The workshop covered development of site plans, photo-documentation of potential historic properties and completion of architectural surveys.

The commission voted to hold future meetings at the Austin-Whittemore Museum at 7:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month. On Sept. 28, the Clay County Commission authorized $200 to the CCHPC for basic operating expenses such as postage and photocopying.

At the Oct. 11 commission meeting, Smith and Marquardt, a USD graduate student, presented information regarding their research on historic preservation ordinances. They distributed copies of a draft ordinance for the commission to review and discuss at future meetings. They stated that of the 18 established Certified Local Governments in South Dakota, only had six ordinances. They also stressed that the key to successful historic preservation was citizen awareness, involvement and cooperation.

During the Nov. 8 commission meeting, Jacobson distributed copies of a Memorandum of Agreement that was signed by representatives of the CCHPC, city of Vermillion, University of South Dakota and the State Historic Preservation Center. He also handed out copies of the 1994 Vermillion Historic Preservation Plan that is due for revision.

The CCHPC looks forward to renewing its association with the city of Vermillion and USD on projects that may potentially impact Vermillion's historic resources. Kevin Jacobson mentioned that the Clay County Historical Society's board of directors had formally agreed to permit the Clay County Historic Preservation Commission to hold its monthly meetings at the Austin-Whittemore Museum and to also permit utilization of museum space to store CCHPC records.

Erickson informed the commission that historic records from Clay County's rural public schools had been transferred from the W.H. Over Museum to the Austin-Whittemore Museum for permanent storage. Erickson also informed the commission that the records for six Clay County cemeteries had also been transferred from the W.H. Over Museum to the Austin-Whittemore Museum. Recordation of some of the county's cemeteries was a previous CCHPC project.

Ron Johnson made a presentation on the status of Rev. Daniel Peter Brown's log cabin, located in Riverside Township in the northern part of the county. The cabin sits on the land that Rev. Brown homesteaded in 1869. Within the cabin, Rev. Brown taught school and held church services where baptisms, weddings and funerals were conducted.

The most widely known settler in the area, Rev. Brown befriended Indians that camped nearby along the Vermillion River and provided advice to new settlers on selecting homestead claims.

The State Historic Preservation Center recently determined that the cabin was not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places because it had lost its "historical integrity" when it had been moved at some point in its history. However, the cabin is potentially eligible for the State Register of Historic Places. Johnson is in the process of completing documentation to apply for that state designation.

The CCHPC briefly discussed the draft ordinance that Smith and Scott Marquardt had developed. The commission decided to form a committee of commission members to develop a second draft of the ordinance for further review and discussion by the full commission in December.

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